Heritage

Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Celebrates 70th Anniversary

The celebrations were a time of reflection and pride for the hundreds of nurses who attended the ceremony.

Hundreds of nurses and veterans have gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps.

A special sunset ceremony was held in Staffordshire to celebrate the landmark. 

Over the last seven decades, the QARANC has faced all kinds of challenges, from saving lives in Afghanistan to tackling Ebola in Sierra Leone.

Elizabeth Keenan was just one of the former nurses who attended the ceremony and she reflected on her time in the Corps during the 1970s. 

"It does bring a lot of us back together again," Ms Keenan explained.

"There are colleagues here that I haven't seen for a couple of years, yet there was one I saw only last November.

"It is important, you've got to have that esprit de corpsregularly within any regular service but certainly within the QAs."

Elizabeth Keenan said the celebrations are a good opportunity to reunite with old colleagues.
Elizabeth Keenan said the celebrations are a good opportunity to reunite with old colleagues.

The Army's Chief nursing officer also attended, laying a wreath of remembrance.

Speaking to Forces News, Colonel Alison McCourt said: "My message to them [the Corps] is to take pride in their ancestry. 

"We're here at a sunset ceremony to sort of rededicate ourselves to the Corps and look forward to the challenges of the future.

"One of the things we've talked about is change, we talk a lot about challenges, we've heard today the challenges that Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses, the nurses of Crimea and nurses of World War One faced. 

"They rose to that challenge, just like every generation of QARANC nurses have since and will in the future."

Hundreds of people attended the ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum.
Hundreds of people attended the ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum.

For many nurses, the day of celebration was a time of reflection and pride. 

Major Kerry McFadden-Newman, 253 Medical Regiment, said: "Something that was very poignant this evening that the padre said was about knowing how to look after yourself and inner healing. 

"I think that was really brought through the ceremony and I think that's what encompasses the whole part of being a member of the QARANC and being nurse."

Private Danielle Butler, from Joint Hospital Group South, added: "To be chosen to be here has been an honour.

"You see all the different faces, important faces, and to see what our cap badge is about makes me want to progress my career so much more.

"I'm a healthcare assistant but my plans are to be a nurse - I've always wanted to be in that field and help people." 

The day was a time for reflection and pride.
The day was a time for reflection and pride.

Earlier in the day, the nurses gathered in nearby Lichfield for a conference to discuss the Corps' past and future. 

Among those in attendance was guest of honour Colonel In Chief, The Countess of Wessex. 

She handed out prizes to those recognised for their outstanding work over the last year.